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Cut-rate skies: Low pilot pay raises passenger risk

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WHAT: A rookie co-pilot on a regional airline flying out of San Francisco International Airport earns as little as $20.50 per hour. That is less than the airport’s window washers, who get $26.75 per hour.

WHY IT’S DANGEROUS: Lower pay for flying more hours puts measurably less-qualified starter pilots into the cockpit. Of the seven fatal U.S. airline accidents since 2003, five involved regional airlines.

HOW BIG IS THE PROBLEM? Regional airlines now fly more than half of the nation’s air passenger traffic. Since deregulation, fiercely competitive regionals became the main air service to smaller cities.